Refresh Mac

Posted on 2016-09-21
Last Modified: 2016-10-19
Hi, my MAcbook Air tends to get slow every now and again, as i have a lot of applications open:

- 3 separate Chrome browsers (for different business accounts)
- photoshop
- macmail
- evernote
- skype
- brackets
- filezilla
- safari

This usually involves me restarting the Macbook and booting all of the applications and browsers (and tabs) again, which is very annoying.

Is it possible to "refresh" your mac without restarting... almost refreshing the memory lag... or any other tips would be greatly appreciated, thank you.
Question by:oo7ml
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LVL 38

Expert Comment

by:Gerwin Jansen, EE MVE
ID: 41808425
What are the specs of your Mac?

Author Comment

ID: 41808437
1.4 i5
4 GB Ram
256 SSD
LVL 37

Expert Comment

ID: 41808451
how many free space does the Mac have on the SSD?

just a quick test, simply quit Photoshop, does it make things better
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Author Comment

ID: 41808462
40gb free.

I actually think it's due to the browsers, as I actually don't have photoshop open that much.

01 - Safari
02 - Chrome (personal)
03 - Chrome (business 1)
04 - Chrome (business 2

When i restart the Macbook, it's back fast again for another week (but i lose all of my incognito tabs).
LVL 37

Assisted Solution

bbao earned 125 total points (awarded by participants)
ID: 41808494
40 GB free space is sufficient for most tasks. therefore space is no longer an issue here.

now you may open Activity Monitor to observe memory status and CPU usage, is Memory Pressure and/or CPU load high?

it seems you Mac need maintenance. two efficient, free, good-reputation tools are available from Titanium Software: OnyX and Maintenance. you need to download a right version depending OSX version.
LVL 40

Accepted Solution

Eoin OSullivan earned 125 total points (awarded by participants)
ID: 41808715
To be honest you're probably simply maxing out the RAM with all those apps open

That is a LOT of apps to be actively using and Photoshop is one which likes plenty of RAM.

Firstly, quitting applications will free memory .. restarting the Mac clearly quits ALL applications but that is an extreme solution.  

Try quitting Photoshop and Safari or Chrome and wait a minute or so for the memory to free up.

Web Browsers including Safari, Chrome and Firefox are all notorious memory hogs and in particular can grab more and more ram depending on the tabs open in each one.

Use the OSX Activity Monitor application .. open it FIRST when you start your MacBook and watch and see as each of your programs open how much of the RAM they consume.
LVL 40

Expert Comment

by:Eoin OSullivan
ID: 41808738
There is also a terminal command you can run to force OSX to clear unused RAM allocations

sudo purge

Open in new window

Ultimately the best solution is more RAM 8Gb+ but clearly in a MacBook Air you're not able to.
LVL 29

Assisted Solution

serialband earned 125 total points (awarded by participants)
ID: 41809317
I basically second eoinosullivan's answer and add some more detail:

You really need a new laptop with at least 8GB of RAM if you're going to open that many Apps on a Mac now.

If you're running anything newer than Mavericks 10.9, 4 GB allows 1 or 2 apps to run within memory, especially larger Apps, such as Photoshop and Chrome.  You have to fully quit them with command q, not just close the window, or you will start swapping to your slower SSD.

sudo purge will help somewhat, but not if you have too many Apps open, since it clears out RAM cache, not SWAP.  Cache will fill up quickly again.  You generally use it in conjunction after quiting an App for best results.  Chrome also uses quite a bit or RAM for each window or tab.

Open Activity Monitor.App and you can see how much RAM is used up in the Memory tab.  You should frequently quit Chrome to free up Cache and SWAP.  sudo purge will mainly clear out cache, to help keep your Apps from going to SWAP.  If you already have SWAP in use, it won't help as much, depending on what's actually in SWAP.  On older Macs, Cache is labeled Inactive and that's what the purge command will clear up.  SWAP takes longer to clear out, unless you actually quit the App for a while (more than just a few seconds).  If you open the App immediately, the system will just reuse that SWAP space and not release it.
LVL 37

Expert Comment

ID: 41809734
if sudo purge
 helps on your Mac then you may download Dr Cleaner from App Store. basically the app does the same thing automatically and more such as clean up unused or cached files.

FYI - Dr Cleaner

Assisted Solution

davidanders earned 125 total points (awarded by participants)
ID: 41811759
The Great Suspender is a Chrome addin, will put Chrome tabs on hold, helps a bit.
You do not have enough RAM for your usage.
My older Macbook came with 2Gb, with Snow Leopard 10.6 and 2010's internet, it was barely enough.
Upgraded to 4Gb, with Mountain Lion 10.8 and 2013's internet, it was barely enough.
It has 8Gb now (maximum), with Mavericks and 2016's internet, it is barely enough.
I like and visit three websites that over time will grab 2 to 4Gb (EACH), I have to quit them once in a while.
LVL 29

Expert Comment

ID: 41811917
El Capitán fixed some of the RAM issues, so that most people can actually work within 8 GB again.

With Yosemite and Mavericks, I would have needed 20-24 GB, which doesn't exist in a Mac Book Pro.  I used to quit apps run purge all the time, but haven't had to do it in El Capitán, maybe just once or twice a month instead of daily.

Author Comment

ID: 41811929
Thanks for all of the help guys... great help.

I'll put this to test over the weekend.
LVL 16

Expert Comment

by:Kyle Santos
ID: 41844301

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